It’s the middle of August and pre-season football is upon us. You know what that means, time to gear up for all of your fantasy football drafts. How you draft will likely determine how your team will do over the course of the season. No single one day is as important as the draft. I am going to give you a few tips to help you dominate draft day and set your team up for long term success. These tips can be applied really to any style of league.
My first tip is this little rule to keep in mind at all times during draft day “Value Wins Championships.” For example, each player is usually rated by position, and given an overall rating by sports sites. Knowing when players should be picked goes a long way in understanding how good of a pick you made. I think the best way to explain this is by looking at one of the mock drafts I did recently. I drafted Carlos Hyde (RB-San Francisco) in the 4th round and Demarco Murray (RB-Tennessee) in the 6th round. I believe Demarco Murray to be the better pick. I think he will be more consistent. I think the Titans are focused on running the ball more, and I do not believe Hyde has shown enough in the league to warrant his rating. Despite all of this I picked them where they were because they had the best value at their pick. Hyde would never be around in the 6th and taking Murray in the 4th is a reach when I know I can get him in the 6th. It’s understanding the nuances of value that can make or break your draft. Bonus: Don’t pick a defense or a kicker before the 15th round… No it doesn’t matter how good the Panthers Defense is going to be, there are a bunch of other teams who will score just about the same amount of points on defense.
My next tip is to do mock drafts. Some of your leagues will publish your draft position weeks before the draft starts. If this is the case you can go on to ESPN or other sites and do mock drafts to help you understand what will be available at your picks. For example, I am drafting 8 out of 10 this year. In another mock draft I did, I wanted to get 3 Wide Receivers pretty early so I could use one at the flex and have an extra when one of my top receivers goes on bye. In doing so I picked the following players: AJ Green, Amari Cooper, Golden Tate. I learned that Cooper and Tate both had the same bye week making that week a nightmare for my fantasy lineup (I would have to play my 4th best WR). Learning this through a mock draft allowed me to tweak my strategy so I could avoid this in the future.
My third tip is to know the people in your league. Are half of the people in your draft Bear fans? Did one of them meet Aaron Rogers and Olivia Munn in a restaurant in California? Understanding the group you play with will allow you to better predict how your league will draft. For example, I know that in my primary league, Aaron Rogers will most likely go in the first round, and Jeremy Langford will be taken at least 10 spots ahead of his ranking. I know that because Aaron Rogers is always taken in the first round by a packer fan and Matt Forte has been over drafted in the past 3 drafts. So if you want Randall Cobb and feel like he will be a top 5 receiver this year, and you know your league has mostly packer fans, you better be prepared to get him early.
Tip number four is have a strategy, there are numerous ideologies out there about drafting. The traditional ideology about drafting a running back in the first round is starting to clash a lot with the new wave of fantasy football that prefers drafting a wide receiver in the first round. This year, I think it matters on where you are placed. I think the top two running backs are far and away the best possible picks (Adrian Peterson and Todd Gurley). I know that runs counter to most rankings but I think the value of having a running back that will consistently get you 13+ points per week is something that will make your team a playoff contender. If they aren’t on the board I think you nab one of the top WRs that you prefer.
My last tip is be flexible. You may know going into the draft who your top targets are and where you should expect to get them, only to have them go way earlier than they ever should have. Figure out what you need to replace them and how that affects the rest of your draft strategy. Stay calm, role with the punches and come out ahead in your league.